Loose Strife

An MP3 blog

Saturday, July 16, 2005

#12 - Nick Hornby, Badly Drawn Boy, beatbiting

“Donna and Blitzen” - Badly Drawn Boy
“Something to Talk About” – Badly Drawn Boy

In my last post I invoked Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity. Fuck. I didn’t really think that out---it was just one of those blog-blurts you end a post with. Of course, with my Blogger software I can simply go back and edit out the offending sentence. But no: I’m not playing like that. I intend this blog to be as honest as possible.

In The Rock Snob Dictionary (a recent book first serialized in Vanity Fair---gak!---which despite some small critical lapses rings embarrassingly true), High Fidelity is described as “the book every [rock] Snob wishes he’d written, and will never admit to having read.” This is pretty accurate, I think. Again, wanting to be honest, there’s probably no way to duck the scarlet-letter designation “rock snob,” although I’d expand it beyond rock and add that it’s pathetic and utterly typical of our snarkily self-serving, faux-Everyman corporate-media-controlled mass market culture that discerning taste must be tarred with a perjorative.

Andway, I’m loathe to have my blog ape High Fidelity in any way. And then I go and mention it in a post. Two, now.

But writing what I and so many other blog-types are writing, I think it’s impossible to avoid some echo of the book, which stands as an ur-text to anybody writing about being an extreme music fan---about how fandom enriches your life and gives you a sense of purpose and a conduit for emotions that ricochet around inside you inarticulately and never find a way out except through the surrogate voice of a singer or MC, and of course (being honest) about how it can also cripple your ability to engage those emotions beyond your iPod earbuds in the world of flesh-and-blood people.

So maybe it’s best to just give Nick Hornby and his book props, and accept that using song lists to advance my blog narrative, or writing about a thirty-something male music geek’s inability to cultivate, let alone maintain intimacy, will be viewed by some as (to use the hip-hop phrase) beat-biting. And I suppose it is, but only insofar as the epistolary form is to a 18th century romance novel, or the presence of a mirror in 17th century Dutch painting, or an MC burst in the middle of a 21st century R&B song---an aesthetic-vernacular device that has become integral to the form.

And anyway, in the end, High Fidelity is a just a book (okay, a middling Stephen Frears film with John Cusack, too). This blog is my life.

Up top, two songs from the soundtrack to About A Boy, the film adaptation of Hornby’s second novel (named for the Nirvana song) which surprisingly had a better soundtrack than the music-centric High Fidelity. I imagine Damon Gough (aka: Badly Drawn Boy) got along with Hornby as they both---to judge from Hornby’s non-fiction writing and music criticism---seem devoted to, yoked to, classic rock song forms. When Gough gets it right, as he does here, his influences are refracted beautifully (Bright Beatles melody in the first, Phil Spector holiday cheer in the second). Other times, history just seems to weigh him down, as it does Hornby’s music writing.

Inspirational line: “You’ve got to let me in/Or let me out.” Has the emotional stalemate of a relationship that can’t be fully consummated or fully dissolved (a situation I have lots of experience with) ever been summed up so neatly?

I haven’t pulled this lovely soundtrack out in the 3 years since I got it, and may never again. So much work and accomplishment, only to be filed away and forgotten on countless shelves and hard drives. Listening as day breaks before heading off to work (another insomniac night), surrounded by my own bookshelves, CD cabinets and hard drives, I wonder how anyone manages to create anything in the shadow of so much history.


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